The Handmaid’s Tale – book review.

 

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I had heard about this book in the 1980s when it was first published, I remember being intrigued by the concept, but I never quite got round to reading it. I caught the first episode of the latest series – and decided to watch no more until I had read the book.

I know its been said many times – the book format gives a richer experience for me, more intimate than watching a TV screen, but I have to admit Elizabeth Moss was a perfect choice for the adaptation.

The Republic of Gilead offers Offred only one function: to breed. If she deviates, she will, like dissenters, be hanged at the wall or sent out to die slowly of radiation sickness. But even a repressive state cannot obliterate desire – neither Offred’s nor that of the two men on which her future hangs. Brilliantly conceived and executed, this powerful evocation of twenty-first century America gives full rein to Margaret Atwood’s devastating irony, wit and astute perception

My respect to Atwood, it is an engaging stifling mesmerising tale – Offred is a survivor, she does not allow herself to think or remember her life before the regime, but it is through the memories that the full story emerges, layer by layer. We go back and forth in time, and the way media is used and manipulated to shape minds, is astounding. Long before sound bites and facebook, it is shocking to see how easily it can all come true.

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When Attwood wrote this book, she was in Germany – Eastern Germany still had repressive regimes and the fear of being arrested for crimes against the state were her inspiration.

Back in the early 1980’s there were no cameras monitoring the streets – no google data collection nor email monitoring. A couple of years ago, a scandal in this country involved under cover policemen living double lives for years with female feminist activists.

“It was after the catastrophe, when they shot the President and machine-gunned the Congress and the army declared a state of emergency. They blamed it on the Islamic fanatics, at the time.

“Keep calm, they said on television. Everything is under control. I was stunned. Everyone was, I know that. It was hard to believe. The entire government, just like that. How did they get in, how did it happen?

“That was when they suspended the Constitution. They said it would be temporary. There wasn’t even any rioting in the streets. People stayed home at night, watching television, looking for some direction. There wasn’t even an enemy you could put your finger on.”

Attwood’s words are chilling – because it seems we have become a society that rarely questions. Our screens are full of celebrities in jungles or dancing, children don’t want to change the world -they want to be famous.

This book has reminded me – of the school child who enjoyed political debates and believed that society needed to change, needed equality – and now, thirty years later the gap between rich and poor is widening again and I wonder where that idealistic teenager went? It feels good to consider something deeper and it is definitely thought provoking.

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If nothing else, this book shows us just how close we are to things tipping the balance and it is scary and frightening. The narrative tension never lets up, there is a pervading fear – that seeps off the page. The suffocating restriction of Offred’s life, where time hangs heavy – but there is nothing else to do but remember.

The ending is a a mark of genius, the epilogue allows us a widening view, and the ability to create our own ending.

Yes, the book does offer a deeper experience, but I will try and catch up with the television series – if nothing else it has created a debate.

Thirty years after publication and it is deservedly on the top sellers list.

 

 

 

 

 

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Could do list for November…

November Joys

The leaves are almost down, I loved the golden colours of these leaves at my local park, most of the trees are bear now, but one tree had this golden carpet underneath that was irresistible!

I love the concept of a could do list – rather than a should do list – (if you read Simple Things Magazine you will be familiar with the idea!)

Enjoy Seasonal Food…. I adore the little clementines that arrive in the shops at this time of year. Ok so you can get them all year round like everything, but now they are in season they taste so sweet! Their arrival brings with it, fond memories of Christmas Stockings!

Visit my local library…. Mine is doing a poetry workshop next week – it is the most amazing place, there is a coffee shop as well as a creativity lab with access to Photoshop and other software.

Christmas Markets are opening all over the country, my favourite is the Winchester Christmas Market – not only are the items for sale beautifully made and artisan quality, but you can skate on the ice rink and enjoy some mulled wine afterwards!

Last year my son bought all his presents from Etsy – I had the most delightful shopping bag, so I will try and follow his good intentions.

Enjoy the sunrise – the extra hour in bed has been wonderful this week, I am a winter creature and feel more at home with winter time than summertime. The wonderful thing about this time of year is that the sunrise is not too early!

Host a board games/ poker evening – I love boardgames – I’ve just bought the new Articulate your life, which is much less cerebral than the traditional game! I also love poker but penuckle is more fun.

Listen to old music… there is nothing more delightful than the memories that flood back when you listen to an old song. I came across Visage Fade to Grey the other day it was the start of journey that ended up a blissful few hours of nostalgia!

Read or better still listen to a ghost story…. Wilkie collins The Woman in White, Susan Hill Woman in Black, or the classic Dickens Christmas Carol will definitely get you in the mood. I adore the BBC website, radio 4 and Radio 4 Extra have some fantastic productions, I have been enjoying Murder on the Orient Express and Oscar Wilde’s Canterville Ghost . There seems to be far more intimacy with radio and the wonderful thing is that I can focus on my crochet.

Lemon meringue pie

Bake a cake – I made some lovely little individual lemon meringue pies yesterday- I love baking it makes me feel so contented. This is also the month to make your Christmas Pudding, if you want it to be mature enough for Christmas Day. I love home made Christmas Pudding!

Go for a walk in the rain with wellies – splash in puddles.. enjoy the scent – listen to the drops as they hit your umbrella…I enjoy rainy days just as much as sunny ones! Somehow the cosiness of home is intensified after a walk in wild weather.

What are your plans for November?

 

Everything changes… Sunday Sevens 15th October 17

hello Autumn

Isn’t Autumn a wonderful time of year? Maybe its the connection with the start of the a new school year laid down in childhood, but it always feels more of a beginning than January does. It might be October, but the trees around me and in the local park are still green and just starting to turn – and there have been some glorious sunny days – where it seems a bonus to catch the gentler kinder sun.

work in progress

The big news I have is that I am crocheting a baby blanket for my new Granddaughter Effie – I am ashamed to admit that it began when my daughter told me she was pregnant – and now she is 7 weeks old already and I still have a border to finish. But I am enjoying the process and the darker longer evenings seem just perfect for the snuggling comforting repetition that crochet brings.

Its my second attempt, the first was with a beautiful soft wool in baby pink and cream but every time I began stitching I thought I was coming down with a cold as soon as I put it away my cold would go away! I realised that the wool was so fine and fluffy that I was reacting to the loose fibres. So I decided to start again with pretty pastel cottons, which is more practical because it can be easily washed!

I am so proud of my daughter, she is a great mum and Effie is thriving! They are a perfect little family the three of them and my son in law is a great hands on dad.

AUTUMN WAS AWAKENED

I love this quotation, the leaves lulling themselves to sleep, describes the season perfectly! One day on our usual dog walk, this lovely carpet of toadstools appeared virtually overnight! They were all gone the next day.

Autumn berries

Autumn is a lesson that tells us its alright to let go. Last year was one of the worst I have had in a long time, and it has taken until May to get back on my feet again. I have held on to things long after I should have done, and finally last month I have transformed my life. I cannot believe how wonderfully better my life is in every sense, it is so much richer and deeper. I look back and wonder why I held on to something that wasn’t right for so long.

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One aspect that hasn’t changed is Barney is still happily chasing bubbles and balls.

It takes courage to let things go, but when you do, you find the emptiness is always filled with something better and more wonderful than you dared hope.

The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney – book review

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The blurb….

Emma
Reeling from a traumatic break-in, Emma wants a new place to live. But none of the apartments she sees are affordable or feel safe. Until One Folgate Street. The house is an architectural masterpiece: a minimalist design of pale stone, plate glass, and soaring ceilings. But there are rules. The enigmatic architect who designed the house retains full control: no books, no throw pillows, no photos or clutter or personal effects of any kind. The space is intended to transform its occupant—and it does.

Jane
After a personal tragedy, Jane needs a fresh start. When she finds One Folgate Street she is instantly drawn to the space—and to its aloof but seductive creator. Moving in, Jane soon learns about the untimely death of the home’s previous tenant, a woman similar to Jane in age and appearance. As Jane tries to untangle truth from lies, she unwittingly follows the same patterns, makes the same choices, crosses paths with the same people, and experiences the same terror, as the girl before.

Book Review

 

My review….

Wow! What a read! haven’t enjoyed a book since than Girl on a Train.. this kept me gripped so much that I completed it in 24 hours! I really enjoyed it – the tension continued throughout – and I liked the double narrative – ‘ Then’ – Emma’s story – ‘Now’ Jane’s story. The two women had very distinct personalities; they each went through similar experiences but their reactions were different. One example is the Sushi restaurant they are taken to by Edward – I found I related much more to Jane’s reaction than Emma.

Both women were recovering from a recent trauma – Emma having an intruder in her flat in the middle of the night and Jane – after losing a still birth.

The house appears to offer a place of recovery – the clean lines and uncluttered space is reflective of a monk’s cell – austere but with its own sense of serenity. The technology in the house is designed to intuitively support the needs of the occupants – shower settings are automatically adjusted each time to the person’s preferences.

However, the technology becomes oppressive – Jane finds services are withheld until she completes on going psychological tests – each of the questions are moral debates and add to the tension as the questions become more intrusive. The house also completes health checks and monitors overall wellbeing into a quantifiable score – Jane is expected to adjust to improve her scores.

The book blurb linked this with Girl on a Train (which I also loved) and Fifty Shades of Grey… (which almost put me off – I despised that book because it was so awful!) Yet, Edward Montford is a controlling character – JP Delaney understands dominant controlling behaviour and uses it very effectively. Edward has power – his designs have made him wealthy, he is good looking and he is also a perfectionist – which makes him quite an interesting character. I agree that there are also similarities between Girl on a Train… but I don’t want to spoil the read for you – so I won’t say why here.

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The story unravelled at quite a pace – I loved the way the two characters experiences were similar and the way they engaged in a relationship with Edward – kept the tension. Edward had exacting standards – the conditions of living in the house were a huge list of rules – and the women sought to meet those exacting standards.

The plot twists were interesting – and the tension built nicely – I could not put the book down! The conclusion was satisfying – I won’t say any more as I don’t want to spoil it for you!

The only negative thing I can say about this book is that I hate it when they use Americanisms… this is set in London, the story is English why then, does Jane refer to her bangs rather than her fringe? Surely American readers would be able to look it up – if they don’t know what a fringe is?

J.P Delaney is a skilful writer, although Good Reads describes them as

J. P. Delaney is the pseudonym of a writer who has previously published best-selling fiction under another name.

I also note there is another book written under this name… which is great news! Clicking on Amazon as soon as I have finished this review.

The book is going to made into a film.. please leave it in London not New York like The Girl on the Train… !

Overall – five gold stars – ten out of ten -quite brilliant!

 

Darling buds of May – Sunday Sevens 14 May 2017

Saturday Sewing

I am sewing again… maybe it is spring fever – but it is good to feel inspired to stitch again. The last 6 months has been difficult for many reasons: my sewing room being packed up into boxes was one of them.  I haven’t yet sorted space in the flat – but this pattern inspired me so much that I raked through the boxes to find what I needed. It is sad but I will re-organise and get my sewing room back together – it is a promise I have made to myself and I have taken some time off in order to do it this month.

Lemon, ginger and honey tea

On Saturday night I went to see The Catfish Kings in Hayling Island – and met up with the friendly bunch from Jive and Boogie group. It is such fun – we all dress up in 1950s style (including the guys!) and dance swing jive. I had a great time – after an absence of almost three years! There is nothing quite like a good dance to raise vibrations and feel great! However,  I was out of condition – so it was not surprise that I woke up on Sunday morning in need of a little physical restoration.

Lemon, ginger, tumeric and honey tea recipe

Herbal teas are quite pricey – Tea Pigs give the most flavour and they are convenient, but sometimes it really is worth making your own – the flavour is deeper and you know exactly what has gone into the infusion. My version of lemon and ginger is anti-viral and a great restorative.

Zest the lemons – it is where most of the flavour comes from it makes a big difference. Add the juice of a lemon, together with a spoonful of honey – (I buy local honey from a Sussex beekeeper) I find the sweetness is necessary to counteract the lemon and it gives a little bit of energy – but you can leave it out if you wish.

Peel an inch of fresh ginger root; either grate it (which is best) or chop it finely – and add it to the pot. Then sprinkle quarter of a teaspoon of turmeric, this not only gives the tea a beautiful yellow colour – but it is being hailed as a wonder herb for many things including antivirals.

Pour over boiling water and allow to seep – I pump the plunger of my beautiful tea pot (a mother’s day gift from my daughter) a few times to really circulate the ingredients. For a truly sensuous experience – drink from a bone china tea cup, or your favourite mug.

We decided to take a walk, despite the rain (a novelty here in the last month of sunshine!).  This is the view from the Parish Church in Walberton; a pretty little chapel. These lovely churches have some beautiful kneelers – they are works of art and small dedication in canvass. This tiny  church was full of beautiful examples. I am not sure how well attended the church was, but to me they are a sign that someone loves and appreciates their church.

Kneeler Binstead church

Work has been busy – I am also trying to de-clutter – one of the advantages of having everything in boxes is that it makes culling things easier. It is shocking to see just how much I have accumulated – and it is all the small things, drawers full of bits and bobs that frankly look as if they are handy – but they have been there for years! The great step forward this week has been creating the pantry with new shelving. It is sublime!

Forgotten Skills of Cooking

I have a passion for all things domestic -this is a delightful read – not just full of recipes and old fashioned baking/home steading skills that have been largely forgotten. It is the stories that make this book a treasure – alongside recipes for scones is the connection with eating them after school! If you have ever wanted to be more self sufficient then this book will guide you along – cheesemaking, cordials, chicken keeping, jam making, salting and smoking!

Bloom where you are

I have discovered a great level of comfort in the joys of home making and savouring good things – so this quote is apt for what I am manifesting right now. I can’t tell you how blessed I feel – not only to have such a delightful job, a lovely home but great friends and family.  of course that also includes the lovely Barney.

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The Dress Shop of Dreams – Menna Van Praag book review

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This is the second book I have read from this author – she creates such cosy worlds full of kind people. The dress shop in question is magical – when a woman tries on one of the beautiful silk dresses – she is clothed in the confidence and beauty to attain her dreams – which mostly revolve around finding love.

This book is about love and loss and finding your way. It is full of kind hearted people who for many reasons are lost. Cora – a scientist has closed off her heart after the tragic death of her parents – begins to remember what happened that night and decides to get to the bottom of the mystery.

Walt – the owner of the nearby bookstore – makes the most delicious cherry pies – has been in love with Cora all his life – but Cora seems immune to his advances. He reads books on the local radio – and his deep voice draws may admiring letters which Walt has no interest in responding to. Dylan – the radio producer begins to write back to some of the ladies – and finds love.

dress shop of dreams

The shop owner – Etta – who is also Cora’s grandmother – is pining for a lost love years ago – and while she can stitch magic into the dresses that bring out confidence and beauty in every woman – she can’t help herself.

All these lovely broken people – somehow navigate their way through the book to a satisfying ending. This is a tale about love, loss and recovery and finding the courage to love again.

These books are a great escape and enjoyable to read – I intend to read another of her books soon.

Menna Van Praag – Lost Art of Letter writing book review

Menna-blog

I can’t recall how I stumbled across this author, but I am so glad I did, if you enjoyed Chocolat then this author is going to really delight the senses – she writes joyful tales that include just a sprinkling of magic, in the same way that Chocolat does – its believable magic, that hint that somewhere out there is a force for good.

I don’t know about you, but with all that is going on in the world, I find I want to escape into a good book, where people are kind, and there is hope – Menna’s writing is just such an escape and the settings she chooses for her tales are so close to my heart that I find them irresistible.

Letter writing

The Lost Art of Letter Writing begins with a tiny, shop tucked away in the Cambridge, it contains beautiful paper, pens and a magical writing desk. Clara the shop owner walks the streets after closing – observing the inhabitants and then writes them letters of encouragement – these letters give hope or support – what ever she is drawn to write.

However, waiting for her is her own mystery, a discovery of a box of letters that send Clara on an adventure beyond the four walls of the shop. It is not just her story, there is a mix of other stories interwoven – the people Clara sends encouraging letters to – which fragmented the story a little.

However, it is a pleasurable read, one that I could recommend.

 

Blithe Sunday Sevens 23rd April

 

 

tulips and hyacinths in pink
spring flowers

Aren’t these just delightful? They have been giving me joyful pleasure every day this week! The hyacinths have just enough scent to fill the room and the delicate pink of the tulips with their deep red interiors have given me a joyful respite even on the busiest of days.

 

Journalling
Journalling with flowers and vintage tea cup

Every morning I spend a few minutes jotting down my thoughts – this week I began a new note book! I get through around one to two journals each year, depending on the thickness of the book – when ever I start a new one it feels as if I am beginning another small chapter in my life. I can never quite get over the excitement of starting a new book its like being back at school at the start of a brand new term!  I always try at least – to write slowly and more carefully for a few pages!

My journal is a friend – one that is always available for me to write any worries or concerns, as well as recording all the little daily delights that come my way. It is not all sweetness and light – it is my go to place to vent! There is also art work that I find inspiring and the odd letter or two. It is also a great way to look back and see how I have changed over the years and I use it to record gratitude – such an essential element to wellbeing.

What I love about journalling, is that it helps to keep perspective – many a time I have written about fears or worries – things that at 2am are running round in my head that seem to be so important – usually end up ok in the end. So the next time I find myself awake and fearful at 2 am – I know it is all going to look better in the morning!

Sussex Downs
View from the Trundle, Goodwood West sussex

We took a lovely walk up to the highest point just beyond Chichester – called the Trundle. You can see for miles all round – on one side you get a great view of Goodwood Racecourse – and on the other you can look across at Chichester and then onto the sea. Unfortunately it was a little misty – but it is so invigorating to be in nature.

Forget not the

I discovered this quotation on Pinterest, sadly the link was dead so I can’t tell you the website for the original. I love the combination of vintage image and the words.

Home on the Range
Book review – home on the Range

I am a bit of a book worm -with a seemingly insatiable appetite for social domestic history. Those of you familiar with Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love or Big Magic might not know that her great grandmother also wrote a cookery book called Home on the Range.

It is more than a cookery book, it is full of wonderful stories and it fills me with hope – she struggled, often had to leave homes in the dead of night because of owing money, she was also an alcoholic – but – she overcame and wrote cheerfully about the importance of living graciously. It is a wonderful read and the recipes are good too.

Barney

Oh and Barney and I are still enjoying our beach walks!

Happy Sunday!

Joyful Easter, the only time it’s safe to put all your eggs in one basket!

Happy Easter

Having Easter in April feels just right, March always seems too early for this celebration of renewal. Long before clothes shopping was an everyday occurrence, Easter was a time when everyone wore new clothes – a small remnant remains in the many Easter Bonnet activities that still go on in Schools. Easter is a pivotal celebration – the dreariest months of the year are behind us and summer is not that far away. Time to pack up winter woolies, and make room for floaty dresses and cotton cardigans. Absence does make the heart grow fonder – because each box is a rediscovery –   like a whole new wardrobe -not just a new outfit.

Pink Crochet Baby Blanket

My beloved, daughter is expecting a little girl in August – I can’t tell you how excited I am about being a Nanna! I attended a midwife appointment with her which was marvellous – the little girl’s heartbeat resounded in the room loud and strong. Knowing its a girl somehow makes her a person already.

It is splendid that already the  process is so much better than my own experience – my own mother had died long before my daughter was born – those early days after giving birth came with such a deep longing for my mother that I suffered both baby blues and bereavement, it was a bleak time; I am so thrilled that I am here to support my daughter, if she needs me.

This is me a few days after having my daughter, I was 22 years old and had been married nearly two years –  we all wore Laura Ashley back then!

Lucy Susie baby copy

I want to wrap my daughter up, in warm fuzzy love, cherish her through this process – I am glad to see mothers  have so much more support, net mums is a great resource and one that is available for those early morning feeds when you feel you are the only one awake and  she can text the midwife anytime.

It has also drawn us closer together – she was my first baby – it is miraculous that my baby is having a baby! I am amazed at how much I had forgotten until we discuss morning sickness, stretch marks and that phenomenal sensation of fluttering baby movements. I am planning a baby shower for her, which is a lovely invention that has crossed the pond – that I am savouring every moment.

I am crocheting a pink and cream blanket, the wool is sensuously soft and delicate, I believe that you can put a positive intention of love in every stitch – which will in time wrap around the baby – pink is the colour of self love so there is a lot of it going around right now!

Vision board

This is my vision board which is plastered on the fridge, I wanted to focus on being more healthy this year and this has taken the form of mindful eating and weaning myself off sugar. Vision boards are the most fun you can have with paper, scissors and glue! You simply take a stack of magazines and cut out pictures that inspire you, paste them to paper (I use lining wall paper) and then put them somewhere you will see them every day. Repeat often – the brain loves novelty and often filters out after  a while, it is a great way to keep on track and fill every day with inspiration. I sometimes make these focussing on colours – or home decoration – Country Living is a feast of beauty and inspiration.

 

Saffron Tales
energy balls natural sugar free treat

I would say I was quite addicted to sugar – after all from an early age I was rewarded with sweets and my Nanna loaded me up with comforting sweet tea. I am not alone in this process – it seems every article on health or fitness has a campaign of demonising sugar. All the writing on the subject blames the demonising of fat thirty years ago – which has produced an epidemic of type 2 diabetes, as manufacturers loaded up our fat free food with sugar to make it palatable. I rarely eat pre packaged food, because I want to know what I am eating, sugar has many names and many forms -I was amazed to discover fresh chicken is pumped full of glycerine because it weighs more!   Despite this trend, the dairy producers are slow to react – try buying full fat yoghurt!

The Saffron tales is a delightful book – armchair travel to the middle East – including a recipe for Energy balls which can be eaten as breakfast on the go. They are made from 160g of dates which I replaced with apricots – they provide the right note of natural sweetness when my desire for a sugar hit is at its height – usually around 4 o’clock in the afternoon when dinner is hours away.  You whizz up the apricots with a cup full of flaked almonds, a table spoon each of cinnamon and vanilla in a food processor. Add enough Tahini (or you can use Almond or Peanut butter) so that the mixture forms balls – and then roll these in coconut or ground almonds. The combination of nuts and natural sugar – releases its energy over time so you avoid the crash that happens just after a sugar hit. I find they sustain me as I don’t feel hungry for a good while afterwards – I can get to suppertime without going through a dozen biscuits!

Yoga for Life

As part of my intention for a healthier year – I have been enjoying this delightful yoga lifestyle book from Maya Fiennes.  The chapters are based around the chakras – using Kundalini yoga (I did not realise there were different types of yoga before reading this book).

A Kundalini session leaves you feeling fighting fit, ready and able to tackle every day challenges with new zest.

The book contains positive quotations, recipes and poses as well as lots of beautiful inspirational photography. It encouraged me to go out and buy some kaftans and leggings – dressing the part makes me feel halfway there and they are sooo gloriously comfortable I often keep my yoga outfits on the rest of the day!

I go to a yoga class every week, but this is a great guide for those days when I want to continue to practise at home – I tried the frog pose and it was the first time I felt the soar of energy that comes from using the poses. It was like discovering magic, and it does make me feel more alive!

barney reduced size

Our evening beach walks are lovely, the sea round here is rarely choppy, and the beaches have never been crowded. I am really enjoying my photography, Barney makes a good subject!

At the end of the week we enjoyed another writing session, which is also in tune with mindful attention – its only when you step back from life an become an observer that you have an opportunity to notice all the small things.

We have family gatherings to look forward to and it is wonderful to enjoy a long weekend. Happy Easter

Easter Eggs

 

 

Enchanted April – Sunday Sevens 9th April 2017

MAKES

OH! what bliss it is to wander in Spring sunshine without a coat! It has been a delightful early spring so far, March went out like a lamb and April has been all sunshine and smiles!  The Crab apple trees on our daily walk are beautiful leaving a carpet of pink among the grass! There seems to be an abundance of pink everywhere we look –  pink is the colour of self love.  It is hard not to be affected by the burst of positive energy all around – life feels great.

I have been rifling through my seasonal clothes and have been re-united with some of my lovely summer dresses – everything feels lighter and brighter. The seeds I planted are coming along well, and we have been enjoying longer walks in the evenings – which lifts my energy levels and makes me feel better.

Spring

I unearthed my supremely comfortable pink (of course!) walking  boots and we headed to the local woods to see if we could find any wild garlic -we spotted clumps of white among the bluebells but the carpet of white flowers were anemones! They look so pretty and fresh among the vibrant greens, but I am not sure they are edible.

Primroses in the woods

These little beauties were flourishing at the side of the path – I remember when I was a child the woods would be covered in a carpet of blue, yellow and white – so it is nice to see there are still abundant wild flowers.

Old tree trunk in the woods

This tree trunk looks like some sort of Velociraptor (see the jaws on the right?) goodness knows how long its been there, but it is beautiful.

Live Simply

My quote this week reflects my decision this year to seek out the small pleasures. I know that Simple Abundance is having a huge impact and I feel as if I am waking up from a deep slumber. Once I began to mindfully, taste, touch, smell and hear it connects me with nature,  – everything you need is right here, right now, and there are gifts everywhere.

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I am a real fan of older films – this is from a film called Enchanted April made not that long ago in 1992, it is perfect Sunday afternoon viewing. Its available on Amazon for under a fiver.

A careworn middle class woman, Lottie Wilkins sees an advertisement to rent a small castle in Italy for April – England seems to be endlessly raining and her life seems so small and drab, She spends her life seeing to the whims of her husband.  When Lottie notices another lady, Rose Arbuthnot – looking just as downcast and in need of a holiday, they agree to rent it together. Two other ladies join them, a socialite Lady Caroline and a dowdy, widow Mrs Fisher. Italy works its magic and we see the women flourish among the terraced gardens and turrets of the small castle.

The book, by Elizabeth Arnim was written in 1921 – and is semi-biographical created when she was physically, and emotionally exhausted, having recently become a single mother. To recover  she travelled to Italy to get away from dreary England – and one day she observed the beautiful gardens below her study, and so she transformed the magic into a story of hope and liberation.

What the book highlights, is just how burdened women can be – and not just from responsibility but their own continual desire to ensure the happiness of those around them, family, friends neighbours. Nearly 100 years later women are still juggling with these same issues of commitments and family stress.

Women run on expectations, the way a car is fuelled by gas. And it doesn’t matter whose: unspoken assignments from parents, bosses clients, children and lovers all crowd our calendars’ borders in ink only we can see.

While the film is delightful, I am finding the book has more depth, you read from each character’s perspective – you get inside their heads whereas the film can only hint at hidden motives. I found the character Lady Caroline more interesting, she is stunningly beautiful – but it is a burden that perhaps I had not appreciated until reading her tale.

hair do

My beloved son, Will is the Director of a Salon in Hampshire every 6 weeks my friend Jo and I  jaunt off for the day to have our hair done together. We usually spend a couple of hours browsing the shops and head to the Salon just after closing hours. We have the whole salon to ourselves.  Afterwards, we head out for a bite or two, sometimes we go jive dancing -depending on how exhausted he is after working all day!

Afternoon tea

Mothers Day was a protracted affair, my daughter and son in law came over for Afternoon tea, and then my son came over for a meal the following weekend, so it has been a great family time all round. I adored Mr D’s swirly sausage rolls and had more than one … or two!

Staffie in the woods
Staffordshire Bull terrier, Barney with ball

Of course, we can’t let a week go by without a Barney picture.. the ball is still intact surprisingly, although it did start out as a cuddly pig, but the pig fabric ended up decorating the lounge floor!

Happy Sunday. x

Sunday sevens is the delightful invention of Nat.. read her blog here.